In Memory of Nan (November 5, 1915-December 5, 2010)
I turned the oven on yesterday to bake a cake, and the baking element on the oven floor snapped and fizzled like a Fourth-of-July sparkler. I could see the spark eating its way around the coil. I called to my husband, "Fire. Get in here." Then I turned off the oven. Immediately, the pyrotechnics stopped, but clearly the baking element was done for, and there wasn't going to be any cake. My husband ordered a new baking element, which I hope arrives in time for me to bake Christmas cookies. Until it comes, all our food will have to be cooked above board.
For dinner I had planned to cook some ribs, which I usually slow cook in the oven. Since I had to use them up, and I didn't have time to go the slow cooker route, I decided to experiment with cooking them on the top of the stove. Spareribs is a weekly meal around here. They're cheap--my local market sells them for $2.99/pound--and tasty. My experiment proved successful; in fact, the ribs were more succulent cooked on top of the stove than they are when oven baked.
Stove Top Spareribs
1 1/2 pounds pork spareribs (4-6 bones)
Penzey's BBQ 3000
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup water
The night before serving, liberally coat the spareribs with BBQ 3000. (If you don't have a Penzey's store nearby, you can order this BBQ rub online at www.penzeys.com.) Place the ribs in a deep skillet. Mine is 2 inches deep and about 9 inches in diameter, perfect for four to six ribs. Cover and refrigerate overnight. About two hours before dinner, take the ribs out of the refrigerator. To the skillet, add the water. Pour the BBQ sauce directly over the ribs. Cover tightly and cook on low for two hours.
That's it. If you want, you can warm up some additional sauce, though we found the ribs quite saucy as they were.
As for dessert: Since I couldn't bake the cake I'd planned, I made a chocolate cream pie. By the way, I never use cake mixes; I only bake from scratch. Not that I'm elitist about food—though I can be—it's just so easy to do and the payoff is ten times the little extra bit of work. I can't stand the hydrogenated-vegetable-oil-flavored cake that results from a box. Same as when I go to a restaurant, and they trot out their ultimate, scrumptious volcanic triple chocolate cake. All I taste is hydrogenated vegetable oil. I don't even want to think about the chemicals in there. And anyone who swoons over those elaborate laboratory-created concoctions probably never had a cake made with real butter and eggs. That goes for chocolate cream pie, too. Never use a pudding and pie mix. My pie recipe originally came from a cookbook put out by Hershey Foods in 1982, Hershey's Chocolate Memories.Through the years I've tinkered with it and have actually perfected chocolate cream pie. If you want to eat it after dinner, make this pie in the morning.
Chocolate Cream Pie
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
9-inch pie baked pastry, graham, or chocolate pie crust
In bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Blend egg yolks into 1/2 cup milk and add to dry ingredients. Set aside.
Melt chocolate with two cups milk in saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook just until mixture boils. Remove from heat. Stir egg yolk mixture into saucepan and return to medium heat. Continue stirring and bring mixture to boil. Boil and stir one minute. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla, and stir until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into pie shell. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto top of pie, smoothing away air pockets. This will prevent a skin from forming. Cool for a couple of hours. Then chill in refrigerator until cold. Serve with whipped cream or Cool Whip™.